Businessman Peter Casey has received his first two endorsements to contest the Presidential Election, while four councils have decided not to endorse any candidate.

Kerry County Council voted to give Mr Casey his first endorsement as a candidate for the election earlier this afternoon.

Clare County Council later followed with its own endorsement of Mr Casey, leaving him halfway to securing a nomination to contest the election next month.

Those hoping to run in the election require the support of four local authorities, or the backing of 20 members of the Oireachtas. 

So far three candidates – Senator Joan Freeman and businessmen Seán Gallagher and Gavin Duffy – have received the required number of endorsements.

Incumbent Michael D Higgins is seeking a second seven-year term and Sinn Féin has chosen MEP Liadh Ní Riada as its candidate.

Mr Casey, who attended the meeting in Tralee this afternoon, won the endorsement of councillors on a vote of 14 in his favour, with four votes for William Delaney and three votes for journalist Gemma O'Doherty.

Meanwhile, county councils in Westmeath, Offaly, Laois and Kilkenny have decided not to nominate anybody for the election campaign.

Kilkenny councillors voted this afternoon after Ms O'Doherty was proposed and seconded. She secured five votes, with seven against and 11 councillors abstaining.

Fianna Fáil councillors in Co Offaly had previously indicated they would be nominating Mr Gallagher, but that name was withdrawn, on his own request, and the council decided not to nominate anyone else.

Laois County Council was addressed this morning by Mr Gallagher who asked members to nominate another candidate of their choice instead of him because he already had four nominations to contest the election, but councillors decided against this move and there was no vote on the issue.

Fine Gael Councillor Mary Sweeney said her colleagues had decided to comply with advice given by the party headquarters.

She said after listening to other candidates speak to the council for over four hours she would be in favour of some type of "screening" of candidates before they appear before the local authority or any other council.

In Westmeath, motions to propose three candidates were withdrawn at a meeting of the council there this afternoon.

As all candidates proposed had already received the necessary support of other councils, it was decided not to nominate anybody else.

Last week, Dublin City Council also made the decision not to endorse any candidate for the election.

Kildare County Council will hold a meeting next Monday, 24 September, to consider nominations for the election.

The only candidate formally proposed at this stage, who has not already picked up the support of four other councils, is Sarah Louise Mulligan.

To win the support of the council she needs a seconder and the support of the majority of members next Monday.

Councillors also face a motion not to support any candidate.

The artist Kevin Sharkey has announced he is no longer seeking a nomination for a run for the presidency.

Mr Sharkey said he "no longer wanted to be part of the farce". He officially made the announcement on Twitter.

The election is being held on Friday 26 October.

Meanwhile, the Twitter account previously used by Mr Higgins in the 2011 election campaign has been reactivated, while a website has also been launched for those who wish to keep up with his campaign.

Sources say the developments are in response to the large numbers of people who want to get involved in his re-election campaign.

However, his campaign will not begin until his submits his nomination papers later this month. The deadline for nominations is 26 September.

Presidential Election: Tallies

  • Michael D Higgins: To nominate himself
  • Seán Gallagher: Five endorsements from Roscommon, Mayo, Leitrim, Wexford, Cavan
  • Joan Freeman: Four endorsements from Cork City, Fingal, Galway County, Galway City
  • Gavin Duffy: Four endorsements from Waterford, Meath, Carlow, Wicklow
  • Liadh Ní Riada: Selected by Sinn Féin
  • Peter Casey: Two endorsements from Kerry and Clare

Seeking endorsements: Peter Casey, William Delaney 1957-1970, Patrick Feeney, John Groarke, Patrick Melly, Marie Goretti Moylan, Sarah Louise Mulligan, Gemma O'Doherty, James Smyth.

Reporting: Martina Fitzgerald, Paschal Sheehy, Ciaran Mullooly